When Sloan Allison walks off the field at Finley Stadium for the last time today, it will not only mark the end of his football career at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga but also the end of the Allison era.
The son of former UTC coach Rodney Allison, Sloan is one of 13 Mocs (5-5, 3-4 Southern Conference) who will play their final game today against No. 12 Wofford (7-3, 5-2). Among those 13 are the only remaining Mocs who played in 2008, Rodney's final season.
Sloan's career has been unlike any other, however. He not only had to see his father let go and replaced by Russ Huesman, but he also went through his own dramatic transformation.
He went from being, in Huesman's words which Sloan agreed with, "a dumpy kid" to a very strong and fit one. And he's had to learn to play nearly every position in Marcus Satterfield's offense.
"You've got to give credit to the people that deserve it -- people like [strength coach Scott Brincks] for getting me in shape and pushing me," Sloan said. "And Coach Satterfield, I think he got the most out of me that anybody could have, from a coaching standpoint."
After starting out at UTC as a quarterback, Sloan was moved to receiver in the spring of 2009. Since then he has developed into one of the most valuable and indispensable players on the team.
"I don't know what we'll do without him," Satterfield said. "I love the kid and I hope to one day be in a position to hire him to work with me."
Not only is he one of UTC's leading receivers with 17 receptions for 172 yards and two touchdowns, but he's also the holder on place kicks and is on both kickoff and punt teams. Just about the only time he's not on the field is when UTC is on defense or when the opponent is kicking a field goal or extra point.
In the Mocs' 24-9 win at Samford on Nov. 5, Sloan even spent some time back at quarterback running the wildcat offense.
"He's done such a great job with doing whatever the coaches ask, doing whatever this team needs," said senior linebacker Ryan Consiglio. "I don't know that I've ever been around a player that has been more valuable in the sense that he can do just about anything you ask of him, and will do it with no questions asked."
Sloan's parents, Rodney and Leigh, now live in Lubbock, Texas. But on most Saturdays this season they have been wherever Sloan and the Mocs are playing. Rodney mostly stays out of sight at games, but Sloan knows where he is.
"He always wears all black so I can find him," Sloan said.
Rodney said he's happy for the success Sloan has had the past few seasons. But more than that, he's proud of the way Sloan has gone about his business since the coaching change.
"What I admire most about what he's done is the commitment that he's had to that football program," said Rodney, whose first season as UTC's coach was 2003. "We all know it wasn't an easy deal, and the way he's handled himself and the respect that I think he's earned through this whole process, that's what I'm most proud of him about."
What could have been an awkward situation -- Sloan going from playing for his father to Huesman and Huesman having the son of the former coach on his team -- has never been so.
"He's just been a great kid to coach and be around," Huesman said. "I'm really proud of him."
Sloan said the hardest part of the change was trying not to compare the coaches and how they ran their programs.
"Obviously I'm a little biased, but I think that everything has definitely worked out for the best," he said.
Sloan hopes to begin a coaching career of his own as a graduate assistant somewhere. He'll have a wealth of experience to draw from wherever he goes.
And UTC will have plenty of holes to fill when he's gone.
John Frierson is in his seventh year at the Times Free Press and seventh year covering University of Tennessee at Chattanooga athletics. The bulk of his time is spent covering Mocs football, but he also writes about women’s basketball and the big-picture issues and news involving the athletic department. A native of Athens, Ga., John grew up a few hundred yards from the University of Georgia campus. Instead of becoming a Bulldog he attended Ole ...